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Get Social: A Mandate for New CEOs

Traditionally, CEOs communicate through e-mail, memos and Q&;As. They walk the halls, attend town hall meetings and issue press releases. They also publish earnings calls, conduct face-to-face meetings and cascade information down through the ranks. Many CEOs even obsess about being quoted in major news and business publications. These activities remain helpful in establishing a new CEO, but as several leaders have demonstrated leadership tools are greatly enriched when social media is added to the mix.

Social media is not just another marketing tool. It is a two-way medium that allows a CEO to engage large numbers very quickly while employing many of the characteristics of one-on-one conversations. New CEOs, however, seem to be largely unaware of its utility. Newer CEOs are less likely than their more seasoned peers to lead through social media. Only 48% of newer CEOs do so, compared to 79% of those in office longer.

Social media can be a state-of-the-art leadership tool that surpasses many traditional approaches to listening and communicating with stakeholders. After all, new CEOs have scant time to communicate their vision, meet with stakeholders, establish their credibility, connect with staff, gain insight into operations, and also lead. Based on interviews with new CEOs in several industries, Leslie Gaines-Ross, Chief Reputation Strategist at the public relations company Weber Shandwick, argues that social tools can be extremely useful to the new CEO who must overcome numerous leadership challenges in his or her first 100 days.

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